Making a Case for Pascal Siakam
I remember the night distinctly, running home from my final exam to capture the Raptors 27th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With the names of Deyonta Davis and Skal Labissiere still on the board I had high hopes. The mock draft I had created saw the likes of Davis and Labissiere gone by the Raptors pick. However, when their names remained to be called upon I hoped the Raptors would jump on the opportunity to grab a much needed PF for the team. Unfortunately, to the “not so” surprise of many, the Raptors chose Pascal Siakam. Siakam was projected as a second round player in many mock drafts and a player many Raptors fans including myself overlooked due to the other names in the draft and once the Raptors chose Siakam many people had criticized the decision.
Whenever the Raptors choose someone I have not analyzed, I immediately being to look up everything I know about the player so I can get an understanding on why they were chosen. Looking up Siakam’s college career he played two years at New Mexico State with averages of 16.5 points 9.7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The initial reaction too many NBA fans would be that he produced very solid numbers, however it should be taken into consideration that New Mexico State is not a very high ranked school when it comes to College basketball so one must take Siakam’s stats with a grain of salt.
However, setting stats aside when looking at his career with the Aggies Siakam provided the hustle plays and defensive effort many coaches want in a player especially Coach Casey. Whether it is actively running the floor or blocking shots on D, Siakam displayed an elite ability to do that in college.
Siakam can be seen boasting top 10’s in Player Efficiency Rating (6th), Defensive Rating (4th), Defensive Win Shares (2nd) and Win Shares (4th) throughout his final year in college before joining the NBA. These are the non-traditional stats that entice GM’s and NBA coaches and could have possibly led to the Raptors reach with Siakam at 27.
However looking at scouting reports and college stats one cannot get a full read on a player without some live action and once I got a first look at Siakam in Summer League he did not fail to impress. Considering all eyes were on Jakob Poeltl (Raptors 1st round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft) Siakam stole the show in the limited time before a knee injury cut his stint short in Las Vegas.
In 15 minutes of action, Siakam provided Raptors fans the potential he can bring to the organization in the future. Producing a stat line of 12 points, 2 rebounds and many “winning” plays any team would want from their player. If not for the minor injury Siakam could have produced a stellar Summer League similarly to what Normal Powell brought during his first run in Las Vegas.
Siakam can be seen consistently running the floor leading to easy fast breaks and maintaining active hands on defence leading to multiple steals.
After a short stint in the summer league many Raptors fan got to see more of Siakam in action and he essentially continued where he had left off in the Summer League. Siakam produced averages of 7.6 points 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in five games.
From his action in preseason things that I took away from his game was that Siakam never runs out of energy. He is seen constantly running the floor and playing at a fast pace. Maybe a little too fast for Jared Sullinger who said,
“Tonight (Siakam) played like a rookie, You can tell he was really playing fast, he was speeding things up but y’know as the game slows down for him he’ll be great.”
As much as I agree with Sullinger’s analysis I believe for now this is the perfect thing for Siakam to have because Raptors are a very fast paced team that loves to run and having a guy who can use his high motor to create opportunities is a big plus!
As well, because Siakam is very active he can guard multiple positions as seen in his first preseason game taking on the likes of guarding Kevin Durant on a couple possessions. Siakam can guard multiple positions because he is very quick off his feet being able to block shots and have timely reads on put-backs which are all effective things the Raptors need since losing Bismack Biyombo. However it should be noted we all must refrain from comparing Biyombo to Siakam because essentially they aren’t the same player and Siakam is not a fan of it himself. When compared to Biyombo, Siakam replied –
“I don’t really like the Biyombo comparison, just, I don’t know I feel like we’re different players with different skill sets and the way we play is different, we may have the same energy and rebounding, but I don’t think I’m as much of a shot blocker as he is but I think I have a different skillset he probably doesn’t have so I think we’re different players and he’s Biyombo and I’m Pascal… I don’t want to be known like that, I want to be known as first Pascal.”
A final note on Siakam was that throughout the preseason Siakam displayed the ability to be an effective rebounder producing around 2.2 offensive rebounds per contest. With Siakam’s high motor, he is able to constantly crash the offensive glass and deflect rebounds creating more opportunities for teammates and himself.
I believe that because Siakam is able to fill in the energy and excitement the Raptors had lost, at this point he will provide a bigger role on the team than their first selection in Poeltl. I think that with his high energy Siakam can prove his worth into the Raptors rotation and become a part of the success just as Norman Powell did during last year’s campaign.
As well, just like Powell was given an opportunity to show his worth with DeMarre Carroll’s injury, Siakam is now given his chance with Sullinger being sidelined for several weeks after having foot surgery. This is a huge opportunity for Siakam to display to the country of Canada who he is and establish himself as a fan favourite.
**As a side note I wanted to create a nickname for Siakam and figured it would only be fitting to use the definition of a pascal and call him “Mr. Newton per Square Meter!!” I know it doesn’t make sense from a basketball perspective but I think it’s still creative.
Piece by Chris Hu – Twitter:@OhYouKnowHu